Economist thrived on achievement, adventure

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Esther Suss set the bar pretty high for her four younger siblings and raised it even more after undergoing a lung transplant 10 years ago.

“She got a second chance at life and lived her life to the fullest,” said her brother, John Suss of Clarkesville, Ga.

Esther Catherine Suss of Oakland and Washington, died Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. She was 64.

Ms. Suss earned a doctorate in international economics in 1972 from the University of Pittsburgh and worked as an economist for the International Monetary Fund for 31 years. Her work took her to 32 countries.

She served as the first IMF resident representative to Latvia from 1992 to 1994, with the rank of ambassador.

“It was hard living with an overachiever,” John Suss said. “She was very driven.”

A “fanatic” tennis player in her youth, she competed into her early 40s before emphysema forced her to quit, her brother said.

She underwent a lung transplant in 2002.

To celebrate her second chance, she climbed to 9,718 feet in Bryce Canyon, Utah, John Suss said. She traveled the world to visit old friends and competed in Transplant Olympics in Minneapolis, Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Her goal was to run a 12-minute mile.

“She was all grit and guts,” said her longtime friend, Nancy Wells of Oakland.

Although her work meant a lot to her, Ms. Suss started doing “adventurous things” after the transplant.

“She was special,” Wells said. “She was a very dear friend, and a wonderfully supportive and generous friend.”

Her brother, Joseph, said he knew she would go far.

“She was always destined for more,” said Joseph M. Suss of White Oak. “She was always smart. She was very unique and fun.”

In addition to her brothers, Ms. Suss is survived by a sister, Naomi Ruth Suss of Tequisquiapan, Mexico. Her parents, Stephen and Mary Suss, and brother, Charlie preceded, her in death.

A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Braddock Catholic Cemetery Chapel, Braddock Hills. Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home in Swissvale is handling arrangements.

Craig Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or

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